Party manifesto pledges should be costed

Kevin Page said one of the reasons he came to the University of York was to reconnect with great economists like Michal Horvath and Peter Spencer.
Kevin Page said one of the reasons he came to the University of York was to reconnect with great economists like Michal Horvath and Peter Spencer.
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A leading economist has called for the costing of political manifesto pledges to enable the electorate to make informed decisions when casting their vote.

Kevin Page, who was Canada’s first ever parliamentary budget officer, told The Yorkshire Post: “As independent fiscal institutes develop around the world, you’ll see more and more taking on this role of costing manifestos.”

But Mr Page, who led the first external review of the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), said the OBR was not built to carry out the task of costing pledges.

He said: “At present they’re not built for it. Maybe actually its another type of institution that should, properly, do the work. But I think the idea of having the work done is good.”

Costing of manifesto pledges should be done in an authoritative way by experts said Mr Page.

He added: “In the UK you have a very strong think tank community. The Institute of Fiscal Studies is world renowned, they can certainly help parties.”

Mr Page said the costings should be made available to the public. He said: “I think it should be a part of the debate, people want to know before they vote that these political parties, as they put out their proposals, they have a fiscal plan and that these new proposals have been costed.”

Mr Page, who was at University of York to deliver a lecture on fiscal consolidation after the crisis and the role of independent watchdogs, was full of praise for the OBR and its chairman Robert Chote.

“The UK is very fortunate to have Robert Chote and his colleagues that provide leadership for that office – Steve Nickell and Graham Parker. They’re about as good as you can get,” he said.